One of Major League Soccer’s original franchises is changing hands for the first time in its history. The Columbus Crew and Hunt Sports Group announced on Tuesday that Precourt Sports Ventures (PSV) has acquired the operating rights for the MLS club.
Effective immediately, the Crew become part of the privately held investment and management firm’s sports and entertainment business enterprise.
“We have long believed in the ascension of soccer in the American sports-entertainment world, so stepping into a charter member of the league is an incredible moment,” PSV managing partner Anthony Precourt, who will serve as the chairman of the Crew, said in a statement. “We thank the Hunt family for having the trust in us to become the Crew’s new steward. The Hunt family has done so much for MLS, and the development of the game in Ohio, and for that we thank them.”
Precourt, who is based in San Francisco, got his start as an investment banker and has been the managing partner at Precourt Capital Management since 2008, investing primarily in the energy sector. In 2012, PSV was founded in an effort to diversify the private equity firm into the sports-entertainment sector.
“It is with great pleasure that I welcome Precourt Sports Ventures as a new MLS owner,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “During the last several months, I have had the opportunity to get to know Anthony Precourt. I have been very impressed with his approach to business, his passion for the game and his commitment to joining our other owners in continuing to build the league and sport in North America.”
The transaction is historic in that it leaves the Hunt Sports Group in charge of only one MLS club – FC Dallas – for the first time in league history. During the early days of MLS, family patriarch Lamar Hunt owned three teams, including Kansas City.
Under the Hunt family's ownership, the Crew won an MLS Cup, three Supporters’ Shields and a US Open Cup title. They also made history when they built and opened Columbus Crew Stadium, the league's first soccer-specific stadium, in 1999.
“Although we are very pleased to welcome Anthony to MLS, today is somewhat bittersweet for our family because of how much we love the Crew,” said Clark Hunt, chairman of Hunt Sports Group. “On behalf of my entire family, I want to thank the city of Columbus, the state of Ohio, the Crew players, coaches and staff, and most importantly, the Crew supporters for cultivating one of the most iconic clubs in MLS and allowing us to be a part of it.”
Precourt will travel from Columbus to Kansas City on Tuesday afternoon and will participate in a Twitter takeover from MLS All-Star Social HQ at 6:45 pm ET.